A salad made of any kind of greens is going to be a better choice than a burger and fries. But if you really want to amp up the heart-health benefits, use spinach as your base. Spinach is rich in folate, which can reduce your risk of developing cardiovascular disease. Tossing just a few handfuls of this vitamin- and mineral-filled vegetable in with your usual salad will give you a nutritional boost.
If you love sour cream on your tacos, baked potatoes, perogies and anything else, then you might be consuming more saturated and trans fats than you realize. And this can raise your cholesterol levels, causing plaque to build up on your artery walls, which restricts blood flow to your heart. Get all the creamy goodness of sour cream without these negative side effects by using plain Greek yogourt instead. It's great in dips, as a spread or as a base for creamy sauces.
Black beans and kidney beans are high in B-complex vitamins (which protect against blood clots and hardening of the arteries) as well as soluble fibre (which helps lower cholesterol levels). Plus, they're incredibly flavourful and can be easily added to a variety of dishes. Make a vegetarian chili that's loaded with beans rather than ground meat, or whip up some black bean quesadillas.
Oatmeal contains soluble fibre, which helps to reduce your "bad" cholesterol levels, and just 1-1/2 cups of cooked oatmeal provides you with 6 grams of fibre. So rather than starting your morning with a sugar-filled cereal, get going the healthy way with a satisfying bowl of oatmeal. Throw in some blood cholesterol-reducing walnuts and almonds while you're at it!
Sometimes you really need a sweet treat to finish off your day, but heaping bowls of ice cream or decadent brownies can make it tough for your heart to work efficiently. So rather than having heavy desserts on a regular basis, switch them out for a bowl of fresh fruit every once in a while. Such fruits as oranges, strawberries, raspberries and papayas are high in heart-healthy nutrients, such as antioxidants, folate, fibre and potassium, so you can feel good about treating yourself.
If you're trying to lower your cholesterol and having too many eggs is an issue for you, flaxseeds can be a great alternative in baking. Place 1 tablespoon of ground flaxseeds in a small bowl with 3 tablespoons of water. Let chill in the fridge for 15–20 minutes. This flax egg can be used in place of a regular egg in all your favourite baked dishes. Studies show that flaxseeds have anti-inflammatory properties and might even be effective at lowering blood pressure. So eat up!
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